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Hitler's Wehrmacht, 1935-1945$
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Rolf-Dieter Müller

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813167381

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813167381.001.0001

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The Military in the Totalitarian Führer State

The Military in the Totalitarian Führer State

(p.7) 1 The Military in the Totalitarian Führer State
Hitler's Wehrmacht, 1935-1945

Rolf-Dieter Müller

, Janice W. Ancker
University Press of Kentucky

In this chapter, Müller presents Hitler’s Wehrmacht as a break in the continuity of 300 years of German history, underscoring that it began as an illegal institution formed in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. Unlike Germany’s military in the First World War, its ambitions were global, designed to establish a totalitarian National Socialist state and world dominance with Hitler as its “Führer.” Because of the ideological foundation of the Wehrmacht, certain abuses were inherent. Müller examines the impact of Nazi ideology in the Wehrmacht in the areas of universal conscription, officer training, the behavior of top-level officers, military pastoring, the justice system, the propaganda machine, and the Waffen SS. He calls due attention to areas in which individuals attempted their own forms of dissent. But ultimately, Müller notes, “As the ‘steel guarantor’ of a criminal regime, Hitler’s Wehrmacht shared responsibility for genocide and war crimes. … It left behind a destroyed continent. The end of the Wehrmacht marked the end of the German Empire.”

Keywords:   Wehrmacht, National Socialism, hero cult, Waffen SS, Reichswehr, conscription, Nazi ideology, propaganda

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